Crafting a masterpiece in 140-characters or less is a challenge. Toss in the pressures of winning a $10 thousand grand prize and the opportunity to launch your public relations career at age 20, and you’ve crafted the perfect environment for panic.
In February 2013, I received an invitation via Klout to enter Tic-Tac’s Shake It Up Pledge Contest. Followers were asked to describe how they pledge to “shake things up” in their life and attach an appropriate photo. With my heart set on moving to New York City for the summer, I took this opportunity as a chance to make the promise to myself:
“I pledge to shake things up by becoming the first in my family to move over 1,000 miles away on my own. #SIUPledge”
As this message made its way around cyberspace I kicked my internship-search to full speed. After weeks of interviews, compliments and rejections, I received the golden e-mail: “On behalf of The Hartman Group Public Relations, we want to officially invite you to become a summer intern.” The Hartman Group Public Relations is a high-profile firm in New York City focusing on Broadway and entertainment media relations. Remembering my pledge, I immediately said, “yes!”
I have two days until I move to the city.
If you’ve ever experienced the New York City realty hunt, bless your soul. Turning to couch surfing, I immersed myself into a beautiful cultural experience. My host had couch surfers from all over the world in her quaint apartment located in the heart of Washington Heights. From a Parisian photographer to a Korean adventurer to a Brazilian model, I have stories for decades. Shortly after this experience, and eight moves later, I settled with an old colleague at an extended stay hotel in the Upper West Side.
What about my family?
As I pledged, I was making this move entirely on my own. Unfortunately, this meant leaving my family behind. Early in my trip, my father suffered from kidney failure, which later brought severe health complications, ending with a heart attack. More than a thousand miles away, I had to make it clear that I was there for my family and needed to prepare myself for the worst.
How was I going to afford it?
With my father’s medical bills climbing quickly through the roof, I knew it was entirely up to me to financially make this trip possible. Determined to stay the whole summer, I sought out a part-time job with BCBG Max Azria as a stylist. Because of this opportunity, I was reminded of how much I appreciate fashion and styling. It’s not about luxury, it’s about self-expression and using clothes as a vehicle for making people feel great about themselves.
With all this ‘bad,’ a ton of ‘good’ is sure to follow.
After the trials and tribulations of the first part of my New York City experience, I began to receive a windfall of epic proportions
Cue the plot twist.
It’s a Summer Friday in New York City and I open what seemed like another “one of those promotional mailers I’ll never use.” The letter reads, “Congratulations! Your tweet has been selected as Tic-Tac’s Shake It Up Contest winner. The Grand Prize? $10,000.” Forget about the hefty check, this quickly shifted my appreciation for this experience and work ethic.
This windfall of good luck, started with a tweet. I knew that Public Relations and communicating with, and for, others is the path my life will take. Soon after this news, The Zimmerman Agency asked me to execute a morning segment on FOX & Friends from start to finish for their Aruba client. I oversaw the set and made sure it reflected Aruba, worked with CEO of Aruba Tourism Authority Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes through her talking points, coordinated day-of-tasks with the producers at FOX, kept the Account Executives in Tallahassee, Fla. updated with happenings on set and maximized the publicity Aruba received during the show. Taking my experiences back to Florida, I jumped from promotion to promotion. I spent some time as the Regional Brand Manager for a local restaurant group, Campaign Manager for a student government political party and a press associate in the Florida Senate.
Most importantly, this tweet taught me how to inspire others and jump through fire to achieve great things. My peers and colleagues now see me as a leader in my communities, seeking advice on their personal social media matters and developing projects. Today, I am looking at open doors waiting to find out where my ‘shaken’ path takes me next.
Taking it back to the Twitter pledge, seconds of courage turned into endless minutes of opportunity and hours of experiences in the field I was passionate about. I quickly learned it doesn’t matter what state I am in, what matters is my state of mind.